A hip fracture is a serious injury, particularly if you're older, and complications can be life-threatening. Most hip fractures occur in people older than 65, with the risk increasing most rapidly after age 80.
Older people are at higher risk of hip fracture because bones tend to weaken with age. This bone weakening is called osteoporosis. Multiple medications, poor vision and balance problems also make older people more likely to trip and fall — one of the most common causes of hip fracture.
A hip fracture almost always requires surgical repair or replacement, followed by months of physical therapy. Taking steps to maintain bone density and prevent falls can help prevent hip fracture.
Signs and symptoms of a hip fracture may include:
A severe impact — in a car crash, for example — can cause hip fractures in people of all ages. In older adults, a hip fracture is most often a result of a fall from a standing height. In people with very weak bones, a hip fracture can occur simply by standing on the leg and twisting.
A combination of factors may increase your risk of a hip fracture, including:
A hip fracture is a serious injury that can reduce your future independence and sometimes even shorten your life. Many adults who lived independently prior to their hip fracture are still in a nursing home more than a year after their injury.
If a hip fracture keeps you immobile for a long time, you may develop one or more of the following complications:
Additionally, people who've had one hip fracture have a significantly increased risk of having another one.
Preparing for your appointment
Call for an ambulance if you've fallen or otherwise injured your hip. Wait for paramedics to move you safely. If possible, have a family member or friend come with you to the hospital. He or she can help you answer questions and consider treatment options.
What to expect
Tests and diagnosis
Often your doctor can determine that you have a hip fracture based on your symptoms and by observing the abnormal position of your hip and leg. An X-ray usually will confirm that you have a fracture and show exactly where the fracture is on your bone.
If your X-ray doesn't show a fracture but you still have hip pain, your doctor may order a CT or an MRI scan to look for a small hairline fracture.
Most hip fractures occur in one of two locations along your femur, the long bone that extends from your pelvis to your knee:
Most hip fractures occur in one of two locations — at the femoral neck or in the intertrochanteric region. The location of the fracture helps determine the best treatment options. ...
Treatments and drugs
Treatment for hip fracture often involves a combination of surgery, rehabilitation and medication.
If the blood supply to the ball part of your hip joint is damaged during a hip fracture, the bone is less likely to heal properly. This occurs most often in older people who have femoral neck fractures, so doctors may recommend partial or total hip replacement for these types of injuries.
In extended care and at home, you may work with an occupational therapist to learn techniques for independence in daily life, such as using the toilet, bathing, dressing and cooking. Your occupational therapist will determine if a walker or wheelchair may help you regain mobility and independence.
Long-term bisphosphonate therapy has been linked to a rare problem in which the upper thighbone cracks, but doesn't usually break completely. Bisphosphonates also have the potential to affect the jawbone. Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a rare condition occurring after a tooth extraction in which a section of jawbone dies and deteriorates.
A hip fracture can be repaired with the help of metal screws, plates and rods. In some cases, artificial replacements (prostheses) of parts of the hip joint may be necessary. ...
Healthy lifestyle choices in early adulthood build a higher peak bone mass and reduce your risk of osteoporosis in later years. The same measures may lower your risk of falls and improve your overall health if you adopt them at any age. Tips include:
Last Updated: 2012-03-22
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